From florists to photographers, planning the perfect wedding takes a village of vendors. If you’re just beginning the planning process, you may find yourself wondering: Am I supposed to hire my wedding vendors in a certain order? The answer, brides and grooms to be, is YES. You don't want to book a band before you know details about your venue, just as you don't want to start designing florals before you know what your overall event aesthetic will look like. Plus, if you book vendors too early, you may not have the critical details the vendors needs in order yet; if you book vendors too late, you may miss securing one of your dream vendors to another, more eager couple. To help you on your quest to plan a stellar soirée, then, we’re breaking down our recommendations for when to hire which wedding vendors below. Read on, and get ready to sign all of your dream vendors like a seasoned pro!
PRO TIP: Before we dig in, it’s important to note that the order listed below isn’t, in any way, the order of vendor importance. (They’re all important, after all!) Rather, we’ve broken vendors down by when they need to be secured in order to ensure for a seamless event-planning process (I.e. you need have an idea of your event aesthetic/color palette before you design your stationery suite; you need to know your venue before your can hire your caterer, etc.). Before you begin securing vendors, map out a budget based on your priorities—decide how much you can spend on each vendor and stick that amount. You don’t want to blow your entire wedding budget on the first few vendors you book and have no cash left for the vendors you need book down the road. (Psst..don’t forget to include vendor gratuity as you’re mapping out your budget. You can check out our complete guide on What to Tip Wedding Vendors here.)
The Core Group of Vendors to Start With: These are the foundational vendors who will help guide the rest of your event details:
- Photographer (Wedding photographers tend to book up super early, so if you've been drooling over a certain photographer's Instagram feed, make sure you reach out to her or him early on to get your wedding date on their books!)
- Wedding Planner (If you’re hiring a full-service planner, this should actually be the first vendor you hire—as a full-service planner will help you find and hire the best vendors in your area. They'll also know what questions to ask when touring a potential venue, and may even introduce you to hidden-gem venues you didn't know existed.)
After that, hire: This second-tier of vendors should be secured once you have your venue secured and have a pro planner by your side.
- Stationer (If you are doing a custom suite starting with Save the Dates, you should hire your stationer early on. If you’re only doing custom invitations—and not custom Save the Dates—you can wait a little longer. Make sure you have an idea of your overall event aesthetic before your start designing stationery. Once it's been printed, you can't go back and change colors or fonts!)
Finally, hire: This third-tier of vendors isn't, in any way, the least important; they're just the vendors you'll want to secure after securing the above vendors (so make sure you save room in your budget for them!).
- Bar (if separate from caterer)
- Rentals (furniture, decor, photobooth, etc.)